If you're planning an eco-friendly home, you may want to look into the potential of designing a home that nestles into the landscape rather than sticking up like a more conventionally constructed home. If your home is nested within the earth, it can reap benefits, such as easier stormwater management and using the earth for heating and cooling.
In addition, such a home presents a unique aesthetic and gives you several green-living advantages (such as reducing the energy used on your HVAC). Here are a few ways you can design a home to be more at one with the surrounding landscape.
1. Earth Berming
If you want a home that's similar to a conventional one (not totally underground) and yet want to reap some of the benefits of nestling into the landscape, earth berming may be for you. An earth-bermed house is one that's surrounded by earth mounded around it up the walls.
An earth-bermed house may have just one wall sheltered by earth, or it may be nearly completely underground with just one exposed wall.
2. Underground Home
An underground home allows you to live fully below the landscape. This type of home can be constructed with practically any interior style you like, but it will often rely on skylights for natural lighting since it will have few (if any) opportunities for traditional windows. It basically offers the benefits of an earth-bermed home, but more so.
3. Green Roof
A green roof allows you to construct a home with conventional structure but still reap the benefits of having plants on top of your roof. In addition to protecting your roof from the sun, a green roof can also be a great way to manage stormwater and reduce runoff.
One caveat is that a green roof can weigh a lot, so you may want to design your house with added strength so the loading doesn't cause any structural vulnerabilities.
4. Trellised Plants
Trellised plants such as vines can grow up your walls, providing shade, greenery, and energy efficiency. While not nearly as extreme as the other ideas listed here, a wall covered by trellised vines can still help your home fit in aesthetically with the landscape. In addition, the vines can reduce your home's excess heat gain from the sun in summer and heat loss in winter.
These are just a few methods you can employ when designing a home that will fit into the landscape and help you live at one with nature. Talk to your general contractor today about the pros and cons of any of these construction features.